A school bus caught fire on Tuesday morning while arriving, full of children, at Central Elementary school. The incident occurred at about 7:35 AM.
Supervisor of Transportation Larry Holland said that the fire originated in the hydraulic hoses underneath the front of the bus.
“When I pulled up to the bus stop, a lady there had a funny look on her face, and she said I had a spark under the bus,” said driver Jean Brooks. “At that time I was already unloading my Central students. So I immediately told the rest of the students to evacuate, from the front and the back just like I’ve been taught. I was helping the little ones at the front, and when I got the back, [Central Principal] Daniel Cook was already back there helping the older ones off. He was a big, major part of helping, he was really great.
“So I checked to see that all the students were out and we brought them inside. All I was concerned about was my students. I had Kindergarten students, and none of them even cried. They were awesome; they listened to me. I could not be any prouder of my kids.”
“Another bus driver Jeff Whittemore was there, and he got off his bus and helped put the fire out,” said Holland. “This was as situation when training really paid off.” A fire extinguisher was used to keep the fire contained until the Fire Department arrived.
There was one minor injury in the incident: Central SRO officer Phil Harper suffered some smoke inhalation and was taken to MCGH and released.
Responding to the scene were the Lafayette Fire Department, EMS, Lafayette Police Department, and Macon County Sheriff Department.
“I want to thank all of them,” said Holland, “and [Central school nurse] Alicia Thompson done an excellent job. She came and looked after the students and Harper, to make sure they were all right.”
All the students who do not attend Central were taken on to their respective schools on another bus. The damaged vehicle was taken to the Macon County Transportation yard for repair.